British government found in contempt of UK Parliament over Brexit legal advice

Aaron Brown
December 5, 2018

May refused to publish on the basis that such "candid" legal advice given to ministers should be understood to be confidential.

"This the best way, I firmly believe, of ensuring that we leave the European Union on March 29", Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told parliament on Monday.

Monday's angry session of Parliament did not bode well for the December 11 vote, which will come at the end of five days of bruising debate starting on Tuesday.

She said: "We can shut our eyes to these hard truths and carry on debating between these extremes for months to come, or accept that the only solution that will endure is one that addresses the concerns of those who voted Leave, while reassuring those who voted Remain".

Once the results of the two votes were announced, Labour's Keir Starmer described the situation as "unprecedented" and noted that the legal advice must now be published in full.

"Never before has the House of Commons found ministers in contempt of parliament".

Following Tuesday's vote, the privileges committee will decide which ministers should be held accountable for this failure and what sanction to apply, with options ranging from a reprimand to a potential suspension from the House of Commons.

The Labour Party and others, including the DUP, said that the vote is so important for the future of the country that lawmakers should be able to see any detailed legal warnings concerning parts of the withdrawal agreement.

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"Government has always behaved in that way and actually if Government starts to have to publish every bit of legal advice it gets that is going to put us at a serious disadvantage when it comes, for example, to dealing with court cases with third parties".

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed the u-turn over the legal advice after MPs decided her ministers were in "contempt" of Parliament.

Senior government ministers are facing possible suspension from the House of Commons days before a crucial vote on Brexit after they were accused of holding Parliament in contempt.

MPs had earlier rejected a government amendment to the motion, which Labour argued sought to kick the issue into the "long grass" until after the vote on the Brexit deal, by 311 votes to 307, majority four. He added: "Theresa May's majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it". May and her government objected to this ruling, saying that it was pointless because they planned to go through with Brexit.

"We should not let the search for a flawless Brexit prevent a good Brexit which delivers on the wishes of the British people".

Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona told the European Court of Justice that a British decision to revoke the countdown to departure would be legally valid. If, against the odds, May wins, Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 on the terms she negotiated with Brussels - its biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years.

In the most extreme no-deal scenario, shopping bills could rise by up to 10% but even in an orderly no-deal withdrawal, with a transition period, grocery prices could rise by 6%, he said.

The fate of those will determine if her Brexit deal succeeds, whether the United Kingdom could be headed for no deal, a second referendum, or even a general election.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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